I’m talking to learning managers each day about the 20 in 70:20:10; about knowledge sharing and about user generated learning that can facilitate this. I see a lot of interest in this topic but a lot of reservations as well. So I decided to list the top 10 objections against user generated learning, with my response.
What is user generated learning?
Before I start, I will give you some context. In my definition user generated learning are learning nuggets, courses, quizzes or curated content that is created by the subject matter experts of your organization and shared with the other members of your organization. This kind of content can replace a large part of your formal training (thus moving you from the 10 to the 20) and can be one of the key elements in knowledge sharing in your organization (either corporate or educational).
This will not work for us: Objections!
Even companies that like the idea of User Generated learning are uncertain about this; will my organization embrace this idea? How many people will actually start creating content, how to control quality, will there be a good return on investment? And more questions like these. I will try to address these issues.
How do I ensure that the content is correct?
That is an interesting question with very different answers per organization. There are organizations that choose a really free format for this. One company we spoke to allows people to create and publish content freely. No control at all, only their name and contact info were published as well. This had two effects: People will think twice before publishing something incorrect. And when it does contain errors it will be corrected by their peers in sort of the same way as Wikipedia works. Other companies follow a more formal, controlled process. They have an Instructional designer collaborating with the SME or the SME has to send his creation to the L&D department for a check. After the check (and if necessary some adjustments) the content is published into the corporate LMS.
SMEs cannot make decent e-Learning material by themselves
SME’s do not have any didactical knowledge and therefore they cannot create effective e-Learning. Most of the time, the first part is correct; they don’t. At Easygenerator we try to address that issue in a couple of ways. First we have built in a simple didactical concept:
- Start with learning objectives
- Construct the assessment to check if the objectives are reached by your learner
- Only create content that the learner needs to answer these questions, no more.
We see that if SMEs follow this, they will create much less content heavy courses and deliver courses that are more effective.
We are developing an online coach. Based on the content created by the SME we will send in app instructions and hints on how to make improvements. This way there is an online coach helping through the complete process.
You can’t use user generated learning for compliance training or security training
That is not correct. With compliance training and security training you have to be able to prove that your employees know the rules. This is not about the learning, but it is about the assessment. In this case you need a certified and correct assessment. The training on the compliance rules can be done with user generated learning. It even gives a lot of advantages. Instead of just the rules, people will write about the best practices connected to these rules. They will also give a practical perspective on these topics, making the content more attractive to the learner and resulting in better compliance in your company. On top of that, authors can work together within Easygenerator to create a course. It is very easy to have an instructional designer working together with a SME or a group of SMEs, ensuring the content is correct.
SMEs do not have the time for this
SMEs and especially your top experts on certain topics will be busy. But these are also the persons colleagues turn to for questions, these are also the people you involve in the creation of centralized created content. The time they will spent are capturing their knowledge in a course or a curation document will be way less than the time they spend on these activities right now. And there is a second point. In larger organizations (especially those with offices in many countries) these experts will do the same work, at the same time in different places. Think about the time they can save, if you can replace this with a couple of courses created once.
Where do I publish this kind of knowledge?
There are many options. Some companies choose to put a part of the material on their website or intranet or in a wiki. Making publication and access very easy. Others choose to have a more formal approach and publish in their corporate LMS. A tool like Easygenerator can create output fitting to any of these tools, so it is really up to you and your companies’ requirements.
I do not want to argue with my ICT department about installing new software
I don’t want to go through all the hassle with the ICT department in deploying and maintaining new software. It will take ages and a lot of money. Not with Easygenerator, we are completely cloud based, no installation on your side is necessary. You can start without any ICT preparations within minutes. All updates, support and bug fixes are included in the services. No extra charges.
SaaS? That is not secure!
Content in the cloud is a big security risk, ready to be hacked. I’m afraid nothing in this world is a 100% secure but I truly do believe that our SaaS solution is more secure than most ‘behind the firewall’ solutions. Here are the reasons:
- We use the Amazon cloud with all Amazon security measures. On top of that we added our own security. This is being evaluated and updated on a weekly basis, making it very secure. Compare that with your own internal IT department. Many of them running on operating systems that are not even supported anymore by Microsoft and the list with security issues is listed on the web.
- Email is the most dangerous thing. How is your writing and review process organized now? Do you create your content in a stand-alone application on your PC (no viruses or malware?). When you are done your content needs to be reviewed by colleagues and SMEs. You probably email them the file. This is really the most dangerous thing to do. Email is not secure at all, your content is exposed in a way you do not want. With Easygenerator all content always stays within the secure boundaries of our cloud server. Want to invite someone for a review? That is built in directly into our app! You send them a link instead and the reviewer can login to the course for review. And all this time the content stays on the same save place.
Return on investment? Start with a pilot.
The summary is that there are in fact no good reasons not to explore user generated learning, on the other hand there are many reason to start exploring it. But what about costs and return on investments? Is your organization ready for this? Will SMEs participate? Will they deliver valuable content? Will you be able to save a lot of money by creating less courses with your L&D department or third parties?
At Easygenerator we do understand that you need to have answers to all these questions before making a final decision on this. So we start with a pilot. If you want to dive into something like this (with Easygenerator or any other tool) that would be my main advice: Start with a pilot, learn and gather data!
Here is how we at easygenerator do this. We start with a six month trial, an unlimited license for every employee within the organization. We do this at very low costs. During this trial we will work with the organization to make a success out of it. We will co-host webinars, set up Q&A sessions, write blogs or participate in your program in any way that adds value. And we will gather data. How many of your colleagues create an account, how many times do they login, how many courses do they create and publish, how many learners are using these courses and with which results? Based on this data you will be able to make a proper decision to continue, or not, after the pilot. You will also have a much better insight in the added value for your organization. We will also have a much better understanding on how this works in your organization, this allows us to create a proposal that really fits your needs. Do you want to read more about User Generated Learning and some real life business cases? Download the whitepaper.